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How Many Prostitutes Are in the United States and the Rest of the World?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con), an information portal for parents, teens and teachers, in a Sep. 26, 2016 article on its website titled “Prostitution Statistics: What You Need to Know,” wrote:

“According to Foundation Scelles, as reported in Le Figaro:

  • Worldwide there is an estimation of 40-42 million prostitutes.
  • 80 percent of the world population of prostitutes are female and range in age between 13-25.
  • 90 percent of all prostitutes are dependent on a pimp.While these statistics about prostitution are just touching the surface, they indicate the extent of the sex-for-sale industry worldwide.There are an estimated 1-2 million prostitutes in the United States…

    A look at male prostitution statistics shows that of the 40-42 million prostitutes in the world, 8-8.42 million are thought to be men… In a report published by the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, 50% of the 100,000 children trafficked for sex are boys.”

Sep. 26, 2016

Havocscope, a provider of data on the black market, in a 2015 book titled Prostitution: Prices and Statistics of the Global Sex Trade, wrote:

“Over $180 billion is spent each year on the global sex trade, with over 10 million women providing services as prostitutes. Some are forced into the trade due to human traffickers, while others enter the trade due to financial hardships…

The number of prostitutes by country were collected from a wide range of public sources. Among the sources included security services estimates, reporting by public health programs, and other monitoring data from global criminal justice programs.

China 5,000,000
India 3,000,000
United States 1,000,000
Philippines 800,000
Mexico 500,000
Germany 400,000
Brazil 250,000 children
Thailand 250,000
Bangladesh 200,000
South Korea 147,000
Turkey 118,000
Taiwan 100,000
Cambodia 70,000
Ukraine 67,500
United Kingdom 58,000
Kenya 50,000 children
Vietnam 33,000
South Africa 30,000 children
United Arab Emirates 30,000
France 20,000
Switzerland 20,000
Poland 19,000
Mongolia 19,000
Israel 17,500
Costa Rica 15,000
Netherlands 7,000
New Zealand 3,500
Denmark 3,200
Ireland 1,000.”


Stephanie Chen, former Writer-Producer for CNN, stated in her Aug. 28, 2009 article titled “‘John Schools’ Try to Change Attitudes about Paid Sex”:

“No comprehensive effort has been made to track the numbers, but experts estimate 1 million to 2 million prostitutes work in the United States. The FBI’s 2007 Uniform Crime Report lists about 78,000 arrests for prostitution and commercialized vice, but experts say those numbers are extremely conservative because many sex workers and johns aren’t caught.”

Aug. 28, 2009

The Prostitutes’ Education Network stated in its article “Prostitution in The United States – The Statistics,” posted on its website (accessed Aug. 28, 2013):

“It is difficult to estimate the number of persons who currently work, or have ever worked as prostitutes for many reasons including the various definitions of prostitution. National arrest figures [in the United States] range over 100,000. The National Task Force on Prostitution suggests that over one million people in the US have worked as prostitutes in the United States, or about 1% of American women.”

Aug. 28, 2013

John Potterat, Former Director of STD/AIDS Programs for El Paso County (Colorado) Department of Health & Environment, et al., wrote in the May 1990 Journal of Sex Research article titled “Estimating the Prevalence and Career Longevity of Prostitute Women”:

“Analyzed data on the prevalence and career longevity of prostitute women in Colorado Springs during nearly 2 decades, starting in 1970… The density of full-time equivalent prostitutes (FTEPs) appears to be about 23 per 100,000 population. By extension to the nation, it is estimated that an average of about 84,000 women, or about 59,000 FTEPs, worked as prostitutes in the US annually during the 1980s.”

May 1990

√Člaine Audet, Associate Editor, and Micheline Carrier, Founder and Editor, of, stated in their Nov. 30, 2004 article “Decriminalize Prostituted Women, Not Prostitution,” posted on the website:

“In 2001, the number of prostitutes in the world is estimated at 40 million.”

Nov. 30, 2004

Jean Vandepitte, MD, et. al., in the June 2006 Sexually Transmitted Infections article “Estimates of the Number of Female Sex Workers in Different Regions of the World,” wrote:

“In sub-Saharan Africa, the FSW [Female Sex Workers] prevalence [percent equals estimated number of FSW in an area multiplied by 100 and divided by the size of an area’s female population between the ages of 15-49] in the capitals ranged between 0.7% and 4.3% and in other urban areas between 0.4% and 4.3%. Population surveys from this same region yielded even higher proportions of women involved in transactional sex. The national FSW prevalence in Asia ranged between 0.2% and 2.6%; in the ex-Russian Federation between 0.1% and 1.5%; in East Europe between 0.4% and 1.4%; in West Europe between 0.1% and 1.4%; and in Latin America between 0.2% and 7.4%…

[M]ost countries in the world do not know the size of this population group. The estimates of the prevalence of FSW presented in this paper show how important this hard-to-reach population group is in all parts of the world.”

June 2006

David Kanouse, PhD, Senior Behavioral Scientists at the RAND Corporation, et al., in the Feb. 1999 Journal of Sex Research article “Drawing a Probability Sample of Female Street Prostitutes in Los Angeles County,” wrote:

“[L]ittle of what is known about the size of this population… has been derived from careful scientific study. Most studies of prostitutes rely on samples of convenience, typically recruiting in jails, STD clinics, and methadone maintenance programs. A few studies also include outreach recruitment of respondents in areas known for street prostitution…

The usual way to minimize sampling bias is through the use of probability sampling techniques. However, the nature of commercial sex work makes that approach especially difficult. Because prostitution is an illicit activity, registries or rosters of prostitutes are not available… persons in the general population who are willing to admit to such activity is inefficient and unlikely to yield satisfactory coverage of the target population.”

Feb. 1999